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Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

From the moment the White House released its partial transcript of President Trump's Ukraine call, a huge unknown was: What was said during the ellipses?

The state of play: Multiple national security officials, and current and former administration officials, have told Axios that they're concerned about the gaps.

  • Did some officials know what the fuller passages were, and were they instructed to leave those details out? That would mean a fuller record exists.
  • Or was the conversation going too fast, and the passages were lost?
  • Or was there disagreement over what was said? 

Driving the news: The National Security Council's top Ukraine expert testified Tuesday that the White House memo of President Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "omitted crucial words and phrases," the New York Times reports.

  • Trump has pointed to the memorandum as proof that Democrats' impeachment inquiry against him — spurred by his call with Zelensky — is a "con job." Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's testimony did not mention the motive of the White House in omitting key references to the Bidens and Burisma Holdings by Trump and Zelensky.
  • Vindman, a decorated Iraq War veteran, is the first official from the White House who listened to the phone call between the two leaders to testify.

Details: Vindman said he was unable to correct the memorandum for leaving out "Trump’s assertion that there were recordings of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. discussing Ukraine corruption" and "an explicit mention by Ukraine’s president ... of Burisma Holdings, the energy company whose board employed Mr. Biden’s son Hunter," per the Times.

  • Vindman testified that the memo's third set of ellipses actually corresponds with Trump saying there were recordings of Biden.
  • He said "some of his edits appeared to have been successful," aside from the two involving Burisma — which Hunter Biden served on the board of in 2014 — and the former vice president.

Background: Trump pressed Ukraine's president to investigate his potential 2020 presidential election rival Biden during their July 25 call. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani encouraged Ukraine's government to investigate Biden's son for months before the call.

Go deeper: White House Ukraine expert to testify on Trump call concerns

Go deeper

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
3 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

5 hours ago - Health

Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.

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